Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Book Review: 'Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence' by Erik Qualman

Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence
Erik Qualman
McGraw-Hill (2012)
How and why our digital footprints and shadows “constitute our permanent imprint on the world”
As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ observation almost a century ago, “I wouldn’t give a fog for simplicity on this side of complexity but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.” That was true then and is even more relevant now in an age, at a time, when many (most?) of us frequently feel overwhelmed by the complexities in all areas of our lives. In this volume, Erik Qualman identifies, thoroughly explains, and strongly endorses five separate but related habits of digital leadership, and broadly defines “leadership” to include but by no means limited to one’s supervisory responsibilities in the business world.  Probably for the first time in human history, a person’s private and public life are one and the same. This is what Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz had in mind when learning that a highly confidential executive memo that had been leaked: “Nothing is confidential. This is the new reality.”
Here are the STAMP habits. Qualman devotes a separate chapter to each:
SIMPLE: “Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler.” Albert Einstein
TRUE: Be true to your passion, with values and behavior in alignment
ACT: “Vision without execution is hallucination.” Thomas Edison
MAP: Know how to get from where you are to where you want to be
PEOPLE: The greatest success is achieved in collaboration
I especially appreciate Qualman’s skillful use of various reader-friendly devices that serve four very important functions: they highlight what is most important, they consolidate key points in context, they provide valuable supplementary information, and they facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review later. These devices include “Digital Deeds Sidebars,” “Life Stamps,” and “a “Key Takeaways” section at the conclusion of each of five Sections.
In Chapter Nine of Section Three, for example, the Sidebar mini-commentaries include “Finding Your Passion,” “Wikipedia – Where Are You?” and Who Likes You Enough to Link?” Then in Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen, there are “Life Stamps” profiles of Oscar Morales (a software programmer in Columbia) and Ric Elias (a survivor of US Air Flight 1549), both exemplary digital leaders.
Throughout the narrative, Qualman takes a multi-dimensional approach to explaining how and why our digital footprints and shadows “constitute our permanent imprint on the world.” His ultimate objective is clear: He wants to help as many people as possible to ensure that their “digital stamp,” their legacy as a human being, is positive (i.e. principled) and productive (i.e. has had a beneficial impact on the lives of others). Of course, it remains for each reader to determine whether or not to become a digital leader, and if so, to what extent they committed to achieve that admirable but demanding goal.
As I finished reading this thoughtful and thought-provoking book, I was reminded of I was reminded of Rabbi Hillel the Elder’s questions, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

Editor's note: This review was written by Robert Morris and has been published with his permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.