I was sent a copy of Heart & Soul
by the publisher, BenBella Books, because a chapter of this book focuses on Starkey Laboratories, a hearing aid company, and I run a blog about hearing loss
. On my blog I will talk specifically about what I learned about Starkey Laboratories (which only makes up one chapter of the book, after all), but on here, I wanted to give an actual review.
To be honest, this is the type of book for which you (a) need to be interested in the topic and/or (b) need to be willing to put down and read in bits and pieces. It is difficult to read through in its entirety because there is a LOT of information here. As in, you will learn way, way more than you ever expected to learn about each of the companies in this book. Unless you have some sort of attachment or interest in the topic of charitable gift-giving or in a company featured here, it is difficult to keep your focus.
From what I can tell, the author picked several companies with a history of charitable contributions and a compelling story, and then sat down with executives close to the history of the company and essentially wrote entire chapters verbatim from the interviews. There are pages and pages of quotations and company history. Each company in question seems to have had a charismatic founder who kept a firm hand in the moral guidance of the company; in most cases either the founder is still around influencing its contributions, or the company remained in the family.
It could be really inspirational in terms of what companies can do to give back, but much of it is very matter-of-fact, and since a lot of it comes from the people close to the company you basically get the company line. There's not a whole lot of outsider opinion from the author himself. I actually would have appreciated more of that.
I think a lot of business executives would do well to read this book and see how a company of any size can do better about its employee motivation, assistance to others, and giving back to communities. It's just a little too dry for entertainment reading.