Book review Leadership Recommended Read

Book Review | Profit Wise

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.
Publisher: TCK Publishing
Pages: 116
Author: Jeff Morrill

Profit Wise is a petit business book that packs a powerful punch. Written by Jeff Morrill, the book is a repertoire of business wisdom. If you are looking for a business compendium, then this book ticks all the right boxes.

Though the book has a transcending appeal, I found it more beneficial for entrepreneurs and promoters of small and mid sized businesses.

Morrill infuses the book with with practical insights and takeaways that he gleaned in nearly two decades. His business acumen helped him build a hearty company culture – something he leveraged to turn in profits.

In this age when capitalism subverts both consumers and producers, Morrill comes across as someone with a solid value system. He emphasises that money can be made by doing the right things. Revenues can stem from doing fundamentals of a business right.

In a dog-eat-dog world we live in today, this sounds too good to be true.

Normally, conflicts between what one preaches and what one practises tend to come out in the writing. However, Morrill’s unflagging loyalty to the ideas he apparently believes in remains consistent throughout the book. I am inclined to believe that he has the values that set him apart in this cutthroat business world.

Here’s a comment that I really admired:

“If society needs to lose in order for you to win, the price of your financial wealth is moral poverty.”

A major part of Profit Wise deals with different aspects of a business and how the leaders can get it right. His inputs about hiring, culture, leadership, compensation, marketing, negotiation and decision-making are valuable and a must-read. Below is my commentary on some of the key pillars of this book:

1. Hiring

Morril wants the startup founders and potential leaders to whet their hiring skills early on. As responsibilities grow and challenges multiply so does the severity of the downside of having hired a wrong person.

A wrong hire, especially, one with a bad attitude and flimsy ethics can upset the apple cart. Morril remarks:

“You can coach skills but not character. You can’t alter a person’s fundamental characteristics.”

He advocates hiring for skills and potential than for experience alone. This idea is gaining traction in the business world. Israeli author Inbal Arieli also talks about it in her book Chutzpah citing how the IDF recruits on the basis of skills and potential.

Jeff Morrill, author of Profit Wise
Jeff Morrill at his Planet Subaru dealership, image source:

2. Leadership

I found his insights about leadership priceless. Actually, some of the best observations I have gleaned in a long time. He mentions that

“Leadership isn’t a single skill, but a comprehensive capacity.”

He campaigns for unearthing underlying causes and investing in remedies when things go south. Looking for scapegoats to hang the blame on does not guarrantee improved potential behavior.

I also concur with his views on many CEOs not empowering their employees enough to take decisions. When that happens, employees usually take short-cuts resulting in unethical and nonsensical decisions – the kind so accentuated by the Danish author Martin Lindstrom in his latest book.

3. Culture

Jeff Morrill’s takeaways on building a robust company culture hit the right nerve, too. Here’s him on integrating innovative thinking into the company DNA:

“Seek dissenting opinions and encourage independent thinkers.”

It was heartening to read that quote since not many organizations have a culture that tolerate dissenting opinions. The entrenched organizations, in particular, are averse to counterintuitive ideas. I hope Morrill’s advice gets through to a few ears and manages to bring about a change.

He is also a believer in the Japanse practice of Management by Wandering Around and recommends managers to spend time on foot patrol.

Morrill is also not okay with the idea of hiring outsiders for senior leadership positions. He mentions he prefers to promote those who have come up through the ranks.

“Culture is not a plant-it-and-forget-it proposition,” he asserts. His circumspection about company culture getting tainted due to wrong hirings is legit.

It reminded me of John Sculley whom Steve Jobs had hired from Pepsi in the 80s to run Apple. A decade later, in an interview, Jobs famously remarked, “I hired the wrong guy. He destroyed everything I spent ten years working for.” Clearly, wrong hirings cost more than just bad quarterly results, the damage they wreak can bring a company to its knees.

4. Decision Making

Decision-making is the most important responsibility of any manager. Morrill makes a good point about the ability of startups to outmanoeuver established companies.

The reason is simple – startups are good at making quick decisions. Most don’t have any bureaucratic hurdles to overcome.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that every mistake is bad and every fortunate event is good…until some time has passed.


Profit Wise is a great guide for entrepreneurs who have done the initial heavy lifting and now want to scale their business. The success mantras that Jeff Morrill shares on different business aspects can bring immense value to the book’s target audience.

I recommend Profit Wise to the newbies in the business world, too. The trainees and the young managers – those learning the ropes – can gain a lot of perspectives about building a right kind of business.

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