It’s newsletter time again and this month I thought I would share a few more interesting books that I have read or listened to on Audible. But first, a quick update on Lone Star Communications. Lone Star is having a good year despite the Coronavirus and other setbacks. We are slightly behind on new orders or bookings which is disappointing, however not unexpected considering the virus and all the issues. We started the year with the best quarter we have ever had even though we started working from home the last two weeks of March which is the end of the quarter. It’s been difficult to keep the sales process continuing when customers don’t want to see you. However, our sales staff has worked hard to keep Lone Star relevant. Now that it’s ok to see customers again, there is a flurry of activity. There is some pent-up demand, and we are working a number of deals. I think we will catch up over time, but right now we are behind. Regarding our Scaling-up effort, we are on track and meeting most of our goals. Some of our initiatives include documenting every workflow in the company which is important, so we know how we are doing things in each company and how they differ. That way, we can find the most efficient workflows in the company and adapt those into all companies and offices. This is all important for efficiency of the company overall and is paramount for our ISO initiative as well. One of the other initiatives is our Talent development. This is moving well as we finalize our onboarding and other hiring processes. One of the things we will be implementing very quickly is to replace the learning management system, LMS, the tracking of training that is, with a new integrated system that will use the same login as our payroll system uses currently. This will make it easier to track your personal progress as well as the mandatory training required for our insurance and our customers. We have a lot of improvements coming; it just takes a while to get it all done. One step at a time.
The first of the books is Countdown 1945 By Chris Wallace. This book is about the 114 days from the day President Roosevelt died and Truman was sworn in as President and the events that took place leading to the dropping of the nuclear bomb. Some quick history, Truman had only been Vice President for three months as he had been brought in to replace Henry Wallace who was dumped when FDR ran for his 4th term. FDR died in office only 3 months into that fourth term. Since Truman was new to the administration, he was not involved in any war plans. When Roosevelt died, Truman was suddenly the Commander in Chief and was now in charge of the Manhattan Project, the project to build a nuclear bomb. 114 days later, he dropped the bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. This was a really interesting story of how he learned of the project, how he struggled with whether to continue to develop it and to drop the bomb once it was operational, and how the world reacted to it. A really fun read if you like WWII stories.
The second book is Without You, There is No Us, by Suki Kim. If you wonder how bad North Korea is to its people, this will give you an idea. The name, “Without You, There is No Us” is a line out of one of the songs the people are required to sing all the time. It is about Kim Jong II, NK’s first leader when the DPRK, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, started in 1953. The without you refers to Kim Jong II. Meaning, without you Kim-Jong, there would be no us, DPRK. This is an undercover investigation of the inner workings of North Korea, DPRK, Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It is a view of what it is like to live in DPRK and how suppressed and deprived the country’s people are. It is the story about a young girl born in South Korea that, at the age of 13, is moved (in the middle of the night) to the United States. She becomes a US citizen, goes to college, and ultimately becomes a reporter and writer for one of the news outlets. She has longed to go back to Korea and finally had the opportunity to go there as a reporter by traveling with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra as part of a good will tour. Later, she arranged to go undercover as a teacher and returns to teach English to children of the DPRK’s elite, meaning most of her contacts were with the high school age children of the elite that run the country of North Korea. It discusses how the elite have everything they need and how the others have nothing. How others receive food occasionally from the government and having to fend for themselves for everything else. There are stories on how every piece of information the North Korean people receive is filtered through the government and how in every newscast they talk about death to the United States and how bad capitalism is and how the US is ruining the world. Basic propaganda. I knew nothing about Korea before this book and have always wondered what the “Forgotten War” was really about and why are we always fighting with North Korea. Spoiler alert: North Korea is run like a cult where all information into and out of the cult is controlled, movement is controlled, and leaving is not an option. This is a really an eye opener. Please read if you have any interest.
Finally, Exercise of Power, written by Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense for Bush. Gates served eight Presidents in roles from analysis to Secretary of Defense. His experience spans 50 years, and he has seen or been part of every decision and program from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Iran bombing a couple years ago. He talks about what went right, what went as expected, and what went wrong. He discusses why some decisions were bad, some hindsight of course, and why some decisions were right and what made them right. This is a long book with a chapter dedicated to each country going back 50 years or more. It’s a history lesson on Africa, Haiti, Somalia, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Russia and many more. This is one of the most detailed history lessons on the world as I have ever read. It was fascinating, and I might read selected parts again later. I am looking forward to reading Gates’ other book, Duty, which is the story about leaving the government to become President of Texas A & M University. Then after four years receiving a call from George W. Bush to become Director of Defense. This is a good book.
I have all three of these books available in my office, if you would like to read them; first come, first served.
Until next time, Ray