Feb 012007

Book Short: Finishing First

Book Short:  Finishing First

The Power of Nice:  How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness, by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, is one of those “airport books” that takes about an hour to read.  I had an ear-to-ear grin reading the book, in part because, well, it’s just a happy book, filled with anecdotes about how a smile here or a gesture of kindness there made a difference in someone’s life — both personally and professionally.

But part of my interest in the book was also driven by a long-standing debate we have at Return Path over whether we’re “too nice” as a company and whether we should have “sharper elbows.”  I was struck by a few comments the authors made, things you would expect like “nice doesn’t mean naïve” as well as things you wouldn’t like “help your enemies.”  To me, that says it all about success in business:  you can be a fierce competitor externally and demand accountability internally and still be a warm and kind person, and that’s the best (and most rewarding) place to be.