How did Circuit City go from a Mom and Pop store with a mere $13,000 investment, to the best performing Fortune 500 Company for any 15-year period between 1965 and 1995, to bankruptcy and liquidation in 2009? What must leaders do not only to take a business from good to great, but to avoid plummeting from great to gone in a constantly evolving marketplace?
Alan Wurtzel, son of Circuit City founder Sam Wurtzel, took over as CEO in 1972 and implemented a successful long-term strategy that simplified the company by unloading unsuccessful acquisitions, expanded the few winning divisions, and preserved the distinct employee culture his father created, positioning the company for unprecedented success. For almost 50 years, Circuit City was able to successfully navigate the constant changes in the consumer electronics marketplace and meet consumer demand and taste preferences. But with the subsequent decline and ultimate demise of Circuit City in 2009, Wurtzel had the rare perspective of a former company insider in the role of an outsider looking in.
Believing that there is no singular formula for strategy, Wurtzel emphasizes the "Habits of Mind" that influence critical management decisions. With key takeaways at the end of each chapter, Wurtzel offers advice and guidance to ensure any business stays on track, even in the wake of disruption, a changing consumer landscape, and new competitors.
Part social history, part cautionary tale, and part business strategy guide, Good to Great to Gone: The 60 Year Rise and Fall of Circuit City features a memorable story with critical leadership lessons.
I'd say this is mostly a book about business practices using Circuit City as the way to string everything together. A lot of the business stuff is common sense but I'd say it's a good overview of things to do and not to do. The history and decline of Circuit City is very interesting, and it's covered quite well and mostly seems pretty fair. The book was never dull, at least for me. As a child growing up in the 80s Circuit City was my favorite store to go to as they always had the coolest new tech, going into the 90s they had things like the 3DO, early 3D/VR and I bought a ton of car stereo stuff there as well - so comparing his notes of what was happening to my memories I think made the book a lot more interesting. If you're of my age when you went to Circuit City what was cool about the place was that it was so different than all the other stores out there, it was dark, everything was in sections, they had high end stuff - it wasn't the generic box store it became in its later years.
Anyways if you read the summary of the book and find it interesting then you should like the book.
The reader was fine, just a straight professional reading which is appropriate for this style of book.
This book shows how courage and determination can open the gates of heaven to create an empire and also how the effort of many careless and insensitive people could destroy the hard work of many, also how lack of leadership on the critical moments in life can sink the biggest ship on the oceans
I may be biased since I worked as a Store Director for Circuit City for 7 years. I always knew at store level the decisions that affected our business. What was so surprising to hear were the decisions that were made at a corporate level, behind the scenes. So many opportunities for this great company to recover, were squandered. Circuit City will always remain near and dear to my heart.....I learned so much... And those learnings have helped me continue to be successful in my career. Such a shame though!
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Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Yes - beyond the Circuit City story, this is a solid business book
Any additional comments?
I was with Circuit City till the end - for me, the #1 benefit is understanding how this massive company could collapse. You hear things, but I put far too much blame on the leadership at the end, when in reality the issues were shared, and realistically the company was dead because when we were on top, we focused on wall street perception instead of dealing with the problems. At that moment, a different decision ... along with better choices in CEO and Board interaction would have turned it all around
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