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Right Away and All At Once: 5 Steps to Transform Your Business and Enrich Your Life

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Visionary business leader Greg Brenneman has written the 21st-century companion to Stephen Covey’s classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Like Covey before him, Brenneman believes that true business success and personal fulfillment are two sides of the same coin. The techniques that will grow your business will also help you achieve a rich,purposeful, and integra Visionary business leader Greg Brenneman has written the 21st-century companion to Stephen Covey’s classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Like Covey before him, Brenneman believes that true business success and personal fulfillment are two sides of the same coin. The techniques that will grow your business will also help you achieve a rich,purposeful, and integrated life. In Right Away and All At Once, Brenneman takes what he’s learned from turning around or tuning up many businesses—including Continental Airlines and Burger King—and distills it into a simple, clear, 5-step roadmap that anyone can follow. His 5 steps teach you how to prepare a succinct Go Forward plan, build a fortress balance sheet, grow your sales and profits, choose all-star servant leaders, and empower your team. For more than thirty years, Brenneman has seen these steps foster dramatic results in a variety of business environments. But ten years ago he realized that he could apply these same business principles to improve his life and build a lasting moral legacy. He found he could make better decisions by carefully taking the most important facets of his life—faith, family, friendship, fitness, and finance—into consideration. Brenneman’s inspiring examples, from both his business and life, demonstrate the astounding effects these 5 steps can have when you apply them right away and all at once.


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Visionary business leader Greg Brenneman has written the 21st-century companion to Stephen Covey’s classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Like Covey before him, Brenneman believes that true business success and personal fulfillment are two sides of the same coin. The techniques that will grow your business will also help you achieve a rich,purposeful, and integra Visionary business leader Greg Brenneman has written the 21st-century companion to Stephen Covey’s classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Like Covey before him, Brenneman believes that true business success and personal fulfillment are two sides of the same coin. The techniques that will grow your business will also help you achieve a rich,purposeful, and integrated life. In Right Away and All At Once, Brenneman takes what he’s learned from turning around or tuning up many businesses—including Continental Airlines and Burger King—and distills it into a simple, clear, 5-step roadmap that anyone can follow. His 5 steps teach you how to prepare a succinct Go Forward plan, build a fortress balance sheet, grow your sales and profits, choose all-star servant leaders, and empower your team. For more than thirty years, Brenneman has seen these steps foster dramatic results in a variety of business environments. But ten years ago he realized that he could apply these same business principles to improve his life and build a lasting moral legacy. He found he could make better decisions by carefully taking the most important facets of his life—faith, family, friendship, fitness, and finance—into consideration. Brenneman’s inspiring examples, from both his business and life, demonstrate the astounding effects these 5 steps can have when you apply them right away and all at once.

30 review for Right Away and All At Once: 5 Steps to Transform Your Business and Enrich Your Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    I give this 3.5 stars. Right Away and All At Once is an interesting mix of a business book, a personal self-help book, a memoir, and a religious book. I felt like it would have worked better if it focused more on one of those aspects, and was not jumping around between them as much. Greg Brenneman started off working at Bain as a turnaround expert, moved on to be the President of Continental Airlines, CEO of Burger King, a member of the board of directors of ADP and the Home Depot (among others) I give this 3.5 stars. Right Away and All At Once is an interesting mix of a business book, a personal self-help book, a memoir, and a religious book. I felt like it would have worked better if it focused more on one of those aspects, and was not jumping around between them as much. Greg Brenneman started off working at Bain as a turnaround expert, moved on to be the President of Continental Airlines, CEO of Burger King, a member of the board of directors of ADP and the Home Depot (among others), and then the Chairman of the private equity firm CCMP Capital. As a memoir or case study, it makes sense to focus on your own experiences a lot. As a book on business in general, I would have appreciated a wider set of examples from various businesses. To a degree, I got tired of hearing about Continental Airlines over and over again. I thought it worked well in the Harvard Business Review Article as it was a case study about Continental, but thought that it didn’t work as well to generalize best business practices from only a couple of examples. I thought it was an interesting format to have the different steps for business, and present them with the corresponding steps for your personal life. Since you’re supposed to do them all at once, they’re not consecutive steps, but more like pieces of a simultaneous pie, but still. I thought the religious aspects of the book were interesting, but not as well integrated as they could be. It seemed like the book had a target audience of people who were Christian/Protestant as it did have some good examples, but not enough context to be relatable to a person that isn’t familiar with the Bible (e.g. everyone needing a Paul and a Timothy). I think being a Christian businessperson is an interesting topic, but thought he was only somewhat sprinkling it in. Instead of having it be a cornerstone of the book or not in the book, he seemed to integrate it at a level that he advised against: lukewarm. I think this is a decent addition to what already exists out there, but would definitely recommend reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People first (as he did). Throughout the book, he mentioned many people that were instrumental in shaping his perspectives. This was a nice gesture, but it sometimes felt a bit like name dropping. The book goes through five steps to focus on in a business, and then follows each chapter with one more focused on your life. “We pulled it off, together, by applying the five basic steps: Have a plan and track your progress. Build a fortress balance sheet. Think money in, not money out. Build a team (clean house if necessary). Let the inmates run the asylum.” (6) This is clearly necessary when a company is facing bankruptcy, but can also be necessary for companies that are “satisfactorily underperforming.” “The second type of company needs to apply the five steps just as much as the firms in deep trouble – and there are far more of them…A large number of American companies, perhaps the majority, are satisfactorily underperforming. They live from quarterly earnings report to quarterly earnings report. Although their performance, revenues and profits all appear tolerable, even adequate, in reality they are performing at levels far below their full capabilities.” (14) The first step is to have a plan and track your progress. He lays out plans mostly in the context of Continental Airlines, and tailors the categories to airline-specific goals. “Every Go Forward plan has four cornerstones written across the top: Market, Financial Product, and People. These four categories provide the backbone that holds everything together.” (59) For the personal life side of this, he gives the analogy of chips on a table, with some chips closer than others. We often try to rack up accomplishments, but don’t always focus on the most important ones. “Then I tell them, ‘The same principle holds true in business and in life. When we build our to-do lists, we have a tendency to tackle all the easy items first. We grab the white chips, the things that come flying at us every day. We can go for long periods – days, weeks, months, years – without ever making it to the blue chips, the things that really matter to us and to others.” (67) We want to make sure that we identify what things are important, and make sure to try to accomplish those no matter what. To help identify what those important things are, he talks about a framework that we’ve talked about at the Teacher Retirement System. “Britt [Harris, the CIO of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas] and I make our own decisions using the Five Fs: Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, and Finance.” (71) Are your decisions bringing you closer or farther away from these? One thing that was cool was that he sends out many notes over the course of a year. At the end of the year, he mails out a book that he really liked to about 500 people. Not everyone reads the books, but many people do, and want to spend time talking about ideas with him. “If you do the math, that adds up to about 125 great conversations a year. As I travel on business, I set up breakfasts or lunches or dinners or coffees to have these in-depth conversations with my friends, many of whom I’ve known for a very long time.” (85) He also gave the example of the CEO of the Home Depot sending out 200 hand written letters a week, demonstrating how he was taking a personal interest in the employees of the store. Step two is building a fortress balance sheet. “What is a Fortress Balance Sheet? 1. Don’t run out of cash. Maintain plenty of liquidity. 2. Know how much leverage your company can handle. 3. Keep your debt maturity stack well into the future. 4. Drill down on your one-page plan and develop a detailed set of measurements.” (95) Some companies were not keeping track of how much cash they had on hand, which is a necessary thing to pay bills and salaries. It’s always important to have enough! The corollary to your personal life is to have your personal finances in order. “Five Simple Rules: 1. Keep budget and make sure you have enough cash. 2. No auto or credit card debt. 3. Limit your education debt and always run a payback on your educational expenses. 4. Don’t allow your total housing costs to exceed 20 percent of your gross income. 5. Always include a minimum of 10 percent savings and 10 percent giving.” (130) He detailed how to avoid auto debt, he drove a Ford Pinto and a Dodge Colt well into his career (127) – he practiced what he preaches! This resonated with me as I try to live well within my means, but I mean, come on, Ford and Dodge? What’s more pragmatic than driving a Toyota! The third step is Think Money In, Not Money Out. “How to generate profitable revenue growth: 1. Stop doing things that lose money. 2. Focus on your core. 3. Consider synergistic product additions or acquisitions adjacent to your core.” (155) Cutting costs can be a great thing, but some of the companies he was involved with were doing it so much it harmed their bottom line. They got into a vicious downward spiral of costs negatively impacting sales. I think that this can be situational, and would have benefitted from more examples. For the case of Continental, it was important to focus on growing the business, but there wasn’t a lot of context regarding how widespread this is, or how to identify when that is the case. The corollary for your personal life was somewhat the opposite: Think Money Out, Not Money In. This book is geared toward people who are middle class and up, and are making enough money to live comfortably if they make sound financial decisions. It might not as perfectly apply to those who do not pull in as large of paychecks. “Keys to thoughtful philanthropy: 1. Give quietly, regularly, and cheerfully. 2. Integrate your giving into your life. 3. Involve your family and friends. 4. Give wisely.” (187) I liked the example of spending Christmas day talking with the family about how to give to various charities. The idea of giving to charities that actually accomplish what they set out to do is also important (see Doing Good Better by William MacAskill). The fourth step is Build a Team (Clean House if Necessary). “So keep in mind several things as you put together your new winning team. 1. Don’t delay in letting some people go. 2. Consistently apply the same tests. 3. Who do you know? 4. Hire people who challenge you and complement your skills. 5. Go all the way down.” (218) He mentioned that the people who drove you into a rut probably aren’t best suited to drive you out of it, which makes sense. Even if they might have some skill, they have probably lost the confidence of the people who work for them, so a change to someone else has a number of benefits. It sounded like there was a lot of turnover when he got to companies, though. While this was probably necessary to make sure that the company would thrive again, it wasn’t good news for the many executives let go, workers whose jobs were outsourced, and workers whose jobs were just cut because the role was deemed unnecessary. I liked the part about how the change needs to permeate to all levels of the organization. If only the executives know about the change, the company doesn’t benefit as much as it could. “The mechanics working third shift in maintenance did not see Continental through the perspective of Gordon Bethune [the CEO] or myself. They didn’t see it even through the eyes of the airline’s head of maintenance. They saw it through the supervisor who ran their shift. To them, the third shift maintenance supervisor was Continental. If that individual didn’t adhere to our values of treating people with dignity and respect, or of informing everyone what was going on, then it didn’t matter much to the mechanics what we did.” (219) For the personal side, he highlighted the need to spend time with important people, and prioritize your personal time. The fifth step is Let the Inmates Run the Asylum. “One thing I know for sure: if you want to win, you have to support and empower all of your associates and coworkers. They have to know, very clearly, what you expect of them. They have to know how they’re doing against what you expect. They have to know that you care about them. And they have to know that if the company wins and the customers win, they win too.” (252) An executive can’t do everything, and if they leave, they want to have competent people who can fill in for them in their absence. It’s important to hire competent people and to delegate. “And how can you empower your employees? Let me highlight six key practices that I have used. 1. Continually communicate your Go Forward plan. 2. Open up direct lines of communication to you as the leader. 3. Identify the key elements of your desired culture. 4. Set up compensation systems to align with your Go Forward plan. 5. Communicate the Five F’s. 6. Have some fun with your coworkers.” (265) An important part of this is caring for your employees, and clearly communicating your expectations from them. “Such incredible leaders know by long experience what it takes to build a thriving culture. They know that to motivate individuals to do their best, men and women need to know that their leaders care for them, are interested in them, and want them to succeed. These leaders don’t try to do everything themselves, because they know that’s impossible. To accomplish some worthy goal, they know an effective leader has to empower others to do the tasks assigned to them, and that they need encouragement and recognition to do their jobs well.” (272) One of the tricky things about this is that these steps are not sequential. When a firm needs change, they typically needed it to start years ago. “You create by far the most momentum and deliver the best results if you do all five steps right away and all at once.” (300) Overall, I thought this book had some good anecdotes, and covered some important topics. I thought that the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People did a more relatable job of this, but I think this book had a lot of useful wisdom to think about.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Conrad

    Not looking to steal Greg's thunder, you should read the book yourself if you want to know what Greg's five steps to successful turnarounds are, but here are some of my favorite concepts, paraphrased from memory in my own words: We all make thousands of decisions every day, yet most of us have no process to figure out how any of them affect our lives. Looking at how the 5 Fs are affected is a good start: Faith Family Friends Fitness Finances There are two kinds of companies or people that need a turnar Not looking to steal Greg's thunder, you should read the book yourself if you want to know what Greg's five steps to successful turnarounds are, but here are some of my favorite concepts, paraphrased from memory in my own words: We all make thousands of decisions every day, yet most of us have no process to figure out how any of them affect our lives. Looking at how the 5 Fs are affected is a good start: Faith Family Friends Fitness Finances There are two kinds of companies or people that need a turnaround. Those who are at the very bottom, about to fail and those that are satisfactorily underperforming. What matters is how you're doing in relation to your potential and not in absolute terms. You shouldn't ever blame your fourth wife for what the first one did. You're better off making twenty decisions today, getting two of them wrong and spending a month to fix your mistakes than you would be spending one month making one perfect decision. If life were a poker table with chips of differing value up for grabs, it pays to pay attention to how much each chip is worth before starting to grab the ones close by. Most people tackle their to-do lists not considering which action will have the biggest impact but rather starting with the easiest items first. Work life balance is a bit of a myth, we should be aiming for work life integration instead.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott Bintz

    The concept of a go forward plan along with Greg’s business insights are solid. 80% of the book applies to the common business person. 20% only applies those like Greg, with access to top shelf resources and elite connections. I appreciated his thoughts on dangerous with a good purpose, along with the huge value of culture carriers, a team that sticks to the plan is game changing, growth is way better than cost cutting & the 5 F’s for decision making. I rated the book a 4 since 4.5 isn’t an opti The concept of a go forward plan along with Greg’s business insights are solid. 80% of the book applies to the common business person. 20% only applies those like Greg, with access to top shelf resources and elite connections. I appreciated his thoughts on dangerous with a good purpose, along with the huge value of culture carriers, a team that sticks to the plan is game changing, growth is way better than cost cutting & the 5 F’s for decision making. I rated the book a 4 since 4.5 isn’t an option. Content would be 5. Cheers

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael Perry

    Thankful for this book. It reinforced, with real life examples, of so many of the principles of leading organizations (and your self) that is required to achieve extraordinary and lasting impact.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cherise Ratliff

    I remember thinking that there seemed to be a lot of name dropping throughout the book; however, its an interesting book written by an interesting person. Solid, practical business advice.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Enrique Martinez

    The captains book to make a comeback from the hell.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Anderson

    Focused Get's to the point! Less is more with clear steps that can be followed to business and life. Fast read! Focused Get's to the point! Less is more with clear steps that can be followed to business and life. Fast read!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Goncalves

    Great work covering general approach to business management, but the sections on mentors repeated itself, not much depth. Great read though.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matt Rose

    Awesome book. Practical and actionable on both the professional and personal fronts. Highly recommended

  10. 5 out of 5

    Malte Holm

    Extraordinary read on turning around businesses and life itself The book is a must for any business leader trying to grasp the art and science of running a successful company. Whether in desperate need of a turnaround, or simply "satisfactorily underperforming", any company needs a good orchestrated plan to thrive (or survive). The author takes the reader through an easy to understand, and practical, one page strategic plan, and explains how it's used through personal stories of turnarounds done Extraordinary read on turning around businesses and life itself The book is a must for any business leader trying to grasp the art and science of running a successful company. Whether in desperate need of a turnaround, or simply "satisfactorily underperforming", any company needs a good orchestrated plan to thrive (or survive). The author takes the reader through an easy to understand, and practical, one page strategic plan, and explains how it's used through personal stories of turnarounds done through his career. A great read and also a truly inspiring story of a man who's helped turn around several high profile companies. Highly recommended!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kelwin

    Sensible approach, brilliantly explained Overall, this books presents a general approach to management of companies in any situation. This is done through down-to-earth principles that are hard to refute. The only thing about it that I did not like much was the sections on mentors. They seem too repeating and offered little information of value to the reader. They could have been easily summarized in a couple of pages.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Leonard J Tacconi

    Very useful and practical management book. As a Christian business person I appreciated that Mr. Brenneman's instruction speaks to leaders on three levels: as children of God, people and CEOs. I'm looking forward to applying the wisdom shared from his considerable success to my life. Very useful and practical management book. As a Christian business person I appreciated that Mr. Brenneman's instruction speaks to leaders on three levels: as children of God, people and CEOs. I'm looking forward to applying the wisdom shared from his considerable success to my life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Johnnie

    This is an outstanding book! Was pleasantly surprised to see that this touched on our personal life as well as business! Five major areas for our life that we need to focus on: faith, family, friends, fitness, and finance--in that order: right now and all at once.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Trina

    Goodreads win. Will review once received. A well written book that wasn't too long to read. It was a decently enjoyable book with some good ideas. I can see some of these steps being helpful in growing your business. A good read. Goodreads win. Will review once received. A well written book that wasn't too long to read. It was a decently enjoyable book with some good ideas. I can see some of these steps being helpful in growing your business. A good read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kelley M

    Very quick read. I enjoyed the business descriptions, and his turnaround tips (relevant given I am in the middle of one). Could have done without how his tips can improve your personal life and the myriad religious references to Jesus.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike Cook

    Great for the whole person This is a book that shares advice not only on how to turn around a company, but also the person or team that runs the company.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Harrison

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Burns

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenmack

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Ragsdale

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brooks Ragsdale

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Salomone

  24. 4 out of 5

    JM Jimenez Reyes

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris Koranek

  26. 5 out of 5

    Preston

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Padgett

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rob

  30. 5 out of 5

    David

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