Reading the Coverage

The competitive edge means having the advantage to outperform the competition. The result is a “win,” be it in sports, entertainment, or brass-tacks business practice. This quarter we offer six […]

The competitive edge means having the advantage to outperform the competition. The result is a “win,” be it in sports, entertainment, or brass-tacks business practice. This quarter we offer six variables, each leading to the same end, all detailing the slippery path to the top and how some individuals and companies successfully reached their goals by thinking both out of the box and within.

The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to the Oscars, and Inside look at the Changing Hollywood System
Anne Thompson
Newmarket for It Books; 2014
320 pp.
Reporter and film critic Anne Thompson dissects the movie year of 2012, focusing her lens on the year’s releases and their marketing, some enjoying resounding effects of the many film festivals.  Filled with insights and little-known details, Thompson takes us behind the curtain, showing us exactly how the billion dollar movie business works today.  And who better to do it than this celebrated journalist who has continuously appeared in numerous elite print and television programs, truly making the reader feel like a Hollywood insider.

The Agent: My 40-Year Career Making Deals and Changing the Game
Leigh Steinberg with Michael Arkush
Thomas Dunne Books; 2014
320 pp.
Peppered with insights from one of the sporting world’s most influential agents, Leigh Steinberg has represented more than 150 professional athletes during his 30-year career. Now, learn the game from the “inside” from the man who served as the role model for the hit movie about sports agent Jerry Maquire. A bit self-grandizing, plan to learn as much about Steinberg as about his clients. Look for the hidden nuggets of interesting facts in this one.

Blockbusters: Hit-Making, Risk-Taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment
Anita Elberse
Henry Holt and Co.; 2013
320 pp.
A Professor at the Harvard Business School, Elberse expounds on the “Blockbuster Theory,” that of putting all of your eggs in one basket while challenging diversification and managing risk. It’s a summary of the “hit” mentality but not limited to the motion picture industry. Included are a look at the sports industry and music as well. In short, it’s the how and why big business throws big money at a project or star, even if their target may not be worthy of the hype.


Hollywood Huckster: A Memoir of Hysterical Proportions
David Garber
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 2013
294 pp.
Kevin Hartigan has been termed “the scourge of tinsel town dealmakers.” Author David Garber was his writing partner, and now vividly and accurately recalls the “anything goes” days of the ’70s and ’80s when he worked with Hartigan, a guy who would never take no for an answer. Among the anecdotes, read about how they stole a fighter jet from the Air Force, impersonated celebrities to get to a producer, or brought two full-grown lions to a meeting at MGM to show attendees how the cats really roared. Be prepared to laugh out loud.

Less Than a Minute To Go: The Secret to World-Class Performance in Sport, Business and Everyday Life
Dr. Bill K. Thierfelder
Saint Benedict Press, LLC; 2013
240 pp.
Sports psychologist Bill Thierfelder reminds us peak performance begins in the mind. In business as in sports, performing at our highest levels mandates filtering out unnecessary distractions. The concepts presented combine the mental, physical, and spiritual sides of today’s individual who strives for his personal best, not just in athletic competition but long after the final gun has sounded.  Based on moralistic principles, he strips away any acceptance of mediocrity. Color the book fast-paced and entertaining.

Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing
Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman
Twelve; 2013
352 pp.
Superior performance comes from not just positive thinking; it’s additive vs. subtracting thinking that makes the difference. Success on the field and in the boardroom has a parallel base, and the authors detail it here. In these pages, learn how teamwork is vastly overrated, motivation is complex, and practice does not always translate to winning. Some seek to win; others seek not to lose. Therein lies a fundamental difference between the victor and loser. It’s more than being competitive;  it’s knowing how to compete.