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Business Is a Contact Sport

Business Is a Contact Sport

4.3 6
by Tom Richardson, Tom Gorman, Augusto Vidaurreta, Gus Vidaurreta
Gives managers 12 key concepts--with implementations--to help them recognize all of a company's relationships as strategic assets and manage them as such.

  • Thoroughly explains the concept of "Relationship Asset Management.
  • Contains 12 principles for defining and maximizing all types of relationships.
  • The authors are experts in their field and have


Gives managers 12 key concepts--with implementations--to help them recognize all of a company's relationships as strategic assets and manage them as such.

  • Thoroughly explains the concept of "Relationship Asset Management.
  • Contains 12 principles for defining and maximizing all types of relationships.
  • The authors are experts in their field and have planned an active promotion strategy including touring and PR events.

Business is a contact sport because human contact, connection, and cooperation is the essence of business. Even in our transaction-driven, increasingly virtual world, solid, long-lasting relationships are still fundamental to success. Yet in most companies, relationships with customers and employees and even more so with suppliers, distributors, licensees, licensors, shareholders, lenders, strategic partners, board members, universities, charities, the media and the community are the most underutilized assets.

Tom Richardson and Augusto Vidaurreta are partners in Entente, a high profile venture capital/mentor capital firm based on the principles of relationship asset management. Richardson and Vidaurreta, formerly with Arthur Andersen Management Consulting are founders of Systems Consulting Group, named twice to Inc. magazine's list of the 500 fastest growing companies in the US. Clients included M&M/Mars, NYNEX, Federal Express, Blockbuster Entertainment, GE Capital and Burger King. Cambridge Technology Partners acquired SCG in 1995. Richardson holds an MBA from the University of Miami. Vidaurreta holds an MBA from the University of Florida. Tom Gorman is a well-known business book author who has written, developed or co-authored more than 12 business books. His articles have also appeared in Business Marketing Magazine and The New York Sunday Times. Gorman holds an MBA from New York University.

From the Authors of Business Is a Contact Sport Over the past year we have been traveling across the country lecturing to business schools on RAM-Relationship Asset Management. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from both students and faculty. There is a consistent message we keep hearing on the concept, one, that the strategy is something they can grasp quickly, and two, the power it has is incredible. Many initial thoughts about RAM is that it is just networking, but RAM is much more. Yes, networking is a part of RAM, but equating networking to RAM in entirety is like saying cutting and suturing is heart surgery. RAM is an extremely powerful strategy that has made us successful entrepreneurs, we believe it is the new model for business success. Whether you run the "mom and pop" down the street, or are a new college graduate, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, RAM can help you and your organization prosper. American business today is becoming depersonalized, those that counter this trend, will be the victors.

About the Author
Tom Richardson began his business career in 1982 as a member of the management consulting division of Arthur Andersen. He was promoted twice before leaving in 1988 to start his own information consulting firm, The Systems Consulting Group, Inc.(SCG). As president, Tom led SCG from a start up to over $30 million in revenues in just 7 years, twice making INC. Magazine's list of the fastest growing companies in America. Profitable every year of its existence, SCG grew without the benefit of outside capital on an initial investment of $150 to incorporate. By 1995 SCG had grown organically to 200 consultants in offices in Miami, Chicago and San Juan. Largely due to the approach that Tom and his partners used in building and maintaining relationships SCG was able to attract and retain the best employees in the industry as well as blue chip clients, such a M&M Mars, Quaker Oats, Bell Atlantic, Ryder System, and Burger King. This quantifiable success, combined with SCG's domination of the South Florida and Latin American markets and its very attractive services offering, made SCG a highly sought after acquisition target for many larger consulting firms and in 1995, Cambridge Technology Partners acquired SCG in a stock swap transaction valued at 30 million dollars. Tom was named to the executive team of Cambridge and ran the worldwide Application Services Division until March of 1997, when he left Cambridge to again pursue entrepreneur interests. Since leaving Cambridge, Tom has been involved in a variety of enterprises, and today he is part owner of P&O Packaging (a plastics company), Hardaway's Firehouse Four (one of Miami's leading restaurants), The Radisson Riverwalk Hotel (a large hotel in Jacksonville), and Horizon Bank (a new community bank he helped found and where he serves in the board of directors). In August 1999, Tom co-founded Entente Investment Inc. whose mission was to invest in entities in the information systems consulting space. In 2001, Entente merged with three of it's investments to form Adjoined Consulting Inc., a system integration and general consulting provider.
Tom's number one priority after leaving Cambridge was to expand and "bottle" the key contributors to the success of SCG and every other venture he is involved in, his method for relationship management. The result of this effort was the development of the book Business is a Contact Sport where the principles of Relationship Asset Management have been "bottled" for the benefit of the business community. In addition to his business interests, he is active in various South Florida charities, notably as co-founder of the Hook and Ladder Foundation, which advocates education as a positive alternative to addiction and delinquency.
Tom Earned his BBA (cum laude) in Business Management from the University of Miami in 1980 and completed is MBA (with honors) in 1982 at UM. He was the commencement speaker for the School of Business Administration at the University of Miami in December 2000 and at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Arizona in August 2001.

Augusto was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United States in 1968 at the age of 13. From 1972 until 1982 Augusto worked at The Miami Herald Publishing Company, where he held different positions in the business side of the newspaper. In 1984 Augusto joined the consulting division of Arthur Andersen (later Andersen Consulting). He stayed with AA until 1988, when he left with other Andersen managers and founded The Systems Consulting Group (SCG), a full service information systems consulting firm. Although SCG never received external funding, it grew rapidly and it was twice listed by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest growing 500 private companies. Under the leadership of Augusto and his partner Tom Richardson, SCG attained employee retention levels much higher than that of the industry, and listed as its clients companies such as Federal Express, NYNEX, Unilever, Pillsbury, Burger King, M&M Mars, Florida Power and Light and Campbell Soups. By 1995 SCG had grown organically to 200 consultants in offices in Miami, Chicago and San Juan, and was on a 30 million dollar revenue run rate. SCG was profitable from the start. In August of 1995 Cambridge Technology Partners (CTP) purchased SCG. Augusto served as a Vice President in CTP until June of 1998. During this time he was responsible for the operations of the U.S. South East region (south of Washington DC and east of the Mississippi), and Latin America. The two organizations totaled over 300 consultants with revenues in the vicinity of 45 million dollars per year. Augusto started the Latin America operation for CTP, opening offices in Mexico City, Caracas, and Sao Paulo. Augusto became involved in other diversifying ventures since the sale of SCG. Today he is part owner of P&O Packaging (a plastics company), Hardaway 's Firehouse Four (one of Miami's leading restaurants), Canopy Palms Hotel (a beach front hotel in Singer Island), and Horizon Bank (a new community bank he helped found and where he serves in the board of directors). All these ventures are under professional management, allowing Augusto to dedicate 50% of his time and attention to Adjoined Technologies. Adjoined Technologies is a service firm in the Information Technology sector. Adjoined also includes a venture capital firm focused on investing in other IT services firms with interesting technologies. Augusto serves as an advisor to both, the operations and the venture groups. Adjoined Technologies, has grown to 190 consultants in a little over 1 year, with offices in Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and Mexico City. Adjoined has always been profitable, and has just received a 25 million dollar investment from Columbia Capital (Washington DC). Augusto and Tom Richardson are in the process of writing a book on the subject of creating a competitive advantage by dealing with relationships as key business assets. The book has been picked up by McMillan Press to be part of its fall 2001 schedule. The book has also received some early positive responses from the academic world. Presentations have been made at the University of Miami, Florida International University, the University of Florida, The University of Arizona and Carnegie Mellon. Augusto earned a B.S. in Business from Florida International University (1980) and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Florida (1984). In 1996 Augusto was one of the finalists for Florida's entrepreneur of the year. Also in 1996 the University of Florida Graduate School selected him as the outstanding alum. In 1999 he was selected by Florida International University as the outstanding alum for the School of Business.
Augusto is active in area charities such as: Troy Schools (a last chance school for teenagers), Jackson Metropolitans (children's oncology), and Shake-a-leg (to help the handicapped).

Editorial Reviews

Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Principles for Managing Relationships
Relationship asset management, if properly implemented, can solve many of the problems that face organizations today. In Business Is a Contact Sport, Tom Richardson and Augusto Vidaurreta, two business consultants who founded the fast-growing company Systems Consulting Group, have developed several basic principles that can make relationship asset management work to improve company performance.

The authors write that most of the problems faced by companies today -- employee turnover, customer attrition, supply disruptions, expensive lawsuits, and even malicious gossip -- can be countered with better relationships. When a supportive team is developed with people who have a stake in an organization, mutually beneficial deals can be crafted, problems can be avoided and networks of long-term, trusting relationships can be built.

To help organizations get the most from human contact, connection and cooperation in a business world that is driven by transactions, they offer fundamentals that can enhance organizations' relationships and help stakeholders create, maintain and use relationships that are mutually beneficial. These guiding principles look at relationships between an organization and its employees, suppliers, customers, stockholders and community leaders as assets, and offer ways managers and entrepreneurs can successfully manage them.

12 Principles
To help companies succeed, the authors have compiled a list of 12 principles that they say can help organizations attract, retain and motivate better employees; boost effective sales and distribution efforts; bolster investor confidence; strengthencommunity relations; improve opportunities; and improve financial performance. These principles include the following:

1. See relationships as valuable assets. It is better to make friends before you need them than after you have problems and really need them.

Relationships with competitors can improve business, especially for small and medium-size companies. Developing a "Relationship Web" that places the organization in the center and charts connections to customers, the public, vendors, employees, the press, analysts, alliances and competitors can help an organization manage its relationships and reach its goals. Every player is important, and balance is vital.

2. Develop a game plan. Everyone who is known by an organization and everyone who can help an organization succeed is part of its "Relationship Universe."

Gap analysis can help companies chart the difference between where a company is and where it wants to be, as well as the relationships that will be necessary to get there. Cost-benefit analysis helps a company balance the costs of developing relationship assets with other methods of achieving objectives, and weighs relationship management against traditional management.

All types of strategies, including financial and operational, must take relationship management into account because relationships are vital for strategy implementation.

3. Create ownership for relationships. Every relationship must have somebody who takes responsibility for it. The authors write that creating the position of "chief relationship officer" (CRO) can help an organization implement relationship management strategies. Although each relationship is "owned" by the main contact with the stakeholder, the CRO owns the relationship environment. Employing a full-time CRO will help an organization by teaching, coaching and advising others on the management of relationships. Qualifications for a CRO include maturity, integrity, communication skills, emotional balance, a real interest in people and the ability to create mutual wins in business situations.

Why Soundview Likes This Book
Using sports analogies to illustrate their points about working together and developing long-term relationships, the authors have created a clear guide that can help any organization get a better grasp on the connections and contacts necessary for successful business.

By encouraging managers to "think like a player," and make "pre-game preparations," Business Is a Contact Sport works the sports metaphor well by providing tips from the "RAM playbook" and offering a "post-game wrap-up" after every chapter, providing highlights of the preceding action and offering game summaries at every turn.

By throwing in pertinent words of advice from seasoned athletes and winning coaches, the authors keep their strategies flowing and turn management strategies into thought-provoking ideas. Together, they deliver better ways to manage an organization and reap the rewards of cultivating positive relationships with everyone who is touched by a business. Copyright (c) 2002 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Product Details

Alpha Books
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Principle #1:

See Relationships as Valuable Assets

I cannot stress too often that a quarterback is not in the game by himself, nor should he expect to bear all the burdens of conducting the offense. Successful quarterbacks want as much solid and useful information as they can get during a game, and one who tries to do it all on his own is heading for some disappointing game days.

From The Art of QuarterBacking, by Ken Anderson of the Cincinnati Bengals

Professional athletes are never in the game by themselves, and they always want as much useful information as they can get. The quarterback might be seen as the star of the team, but in his book, Ken Anderson goes on to say that besides listening to the coach, the QB needs to tune in to the guys in the backfield, the linemen, and even the players on the sidelines. To win the game, he needs every one of these people not just for their blocking, tackling, running, and receiving, but also for their perspectives on threats and opportunities unfolding on the field and how to deal with them.

Savvy managers, entrepreneurs, and professionals understand that they, too, are surrounded by people who can help them. They see their relationships with those people as valuable assets, and that is the first principle of Relationship Asset Management (RAM). When you see relationships as assets, you focus on them. You are attuned to every one of them, and you employ them to move your organization and everyone with a stake in it toward their goals. You realize that without relationships, you don't have a business. And you know that when you're on top of your business relationships, you're on top of your game.

Mining the Value in Relationships

We're here to blow the whistle and call a timeout! We want you to join us in a huddle and hear a game-winning idea: You've got to protect your assets out there and put them to work for you and your company.

Is this warning necessary? Aren't managers and entrepreneurs already managing their assets? Aren't they tracking down materials breakage and plugging inventory leaks? Don't they immediately put idle equipment and empty office space to use? Aren't they ridding the shop floor of wasted time and motion? Haven't they declared open season on fraud, embezzlement, uncollected debts, and other financial losses?

Of course. Yet they often sit stone still as some of their most valuable assets leak out, sit idle, or lose money. The assets in question are the company's relationships. So, we're saying, let's take a look at what's happening to our business relationships and develop a game plan for identifying, evaluating, developing, and protecting these assets.

The fact is, many managers don't see their relationships as assets. True, most know that customer relationships are important. The same goes for those with employees. However, as important as those two stakeholder groups are, they are just part of the picture. Every relationship that the company has with everyone it touches or could benefit from touching is an asset or a potential asset. In business, assets must be mined for their full value. That's the approach that we recommend managers and entrepreneurs take to their relationships.

Many companies don't fully consider the role that relationships play in their business. For instance, in the early to mid-1990s, a major cereal, cookie, and snack food company laid off a large portion of its veteran sales force. These men and women were being paid more than the company would have to pay younger, less experienced recruits. So, in a typical economically driven personnel decision, management laid off large numbers of seasoned salespeople. The move was justified by financial strategy, which aimed to cut costs, a common objective for companies in mature markets. The move also seemed justified by marketing strategy. After all, with long-established, household-name brands, management believed that the products had a permanent franchise on supermarket shelf space. Didn't they basically sell themselves?

Not exactly. From 1996 through 1999, the company's total annual cookie, snack, and cereal sales decreased dramatically. Analysts reported that the company had underestimated how important the relationships that its salespeople had formed with supermarket and grocery-store managers were. It turned out that the battle for shelf space depends on more than having solid brands. It also depends on the relationships that a company's salespeople have with the people who control the shelf space in the stores.

The relationships that those salespeople had built with the store managers over the years were valuable assets. Those assets were destroyed in a matter of weeks because of one management decision. Implicit in that decision was the failure to view relationships in this case, relationships between salespeople and customers as assets.

Assets enable a company to reach its goals. That's why assets have value and why companies invest in them, manage them, and maximize the use of them. That's also why relationships are assets: They enable a company to reach its goals. We're convinced that a major reason so many companies don't manage their relationships as assets is that managers don't fully understand the role that relationships play in reaching goals. Or maybe relationships are too intangible for most managers to see as assets. Yet information is intangible, and most companies now view it as being on par with the traditional resources of land, labor, and capital. The investment of billions of dollars in information technology and the creation of the position of chief information officer both attest to that. However, a company needs relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, investors, government agencies, competitors, and a huge array of other entities and individuals as surely as it needs offices, computers, vehicles, and information.

No business of any size can function without relationships because they provide the context in which people do business. When that context is missing when people don't really know one another, or when relationships are distorted by mistrust, greed, or bad feelings doing business becomes far more difficult, if not impossible. The better a company's relationships are, the better that company will function. What's more, doing business by developing relationships is much easier, far more personally rewarding, and a lot more fun.

Microsoft might be the best recent example of a major company failing to manage all of its relationships effectively. As of this writing, Microsoft faces the possibility of a federally ordered break-up of the company. Whatever your opinion is of the court's decision (we have our opinion, too), and whatever the ultimate outcome is of the case and of the appeals to follow, one thing is certain: Microsoft did a poor job of managing its relationships with two important constituencies its competitors and the government. As reported in the November 1, 1999, New York Times, complaints from Netscape Communications about Microsoft's competitive practices "captured the Justice Department's attention and touched off the investigation and trial." Two years before the trial, Sen. Orrin Hatch called Microsoft chairman Bill Gates before his judiciary committee and gave him "a political shellacking." Novell Corporation, another Microsoft competitor, happens to be based in Utah, which happens to be Sen. Hatch's state.

With an 80 to 90 percent share of the world's microcomputer operating system market, these were risks that Microsoft could have foreseen. A near-monopoly actually benefits from competition or, at least, the appearance of competition. For instance, in the commercial credit-reporting business, where Dun & Bradstreet has long held about an 85 percent share, D&B tolerates competitors, such as TRW's business credit-reporting division and other, smaller credit bureaus. With antitrust laws on the books, healthy competitors are arguably a key success factor for a near-monopoly. However, Microsoft's practices angered its few genuine competitors, who took their case to the government.

When Microsoft finally perceived the risks it faced, it began a serious lobbying and public relations effort. But that effort was occasionally clumsy and certainly too late. The Times article mentioned, "Mr. Gates long disdained the capitol [Washington, D.C.] as an analog anachronism in a digital age and refused to devote time or resources to courting government leaders. That has now changed, in a big way."

If a Relationship Asset Management (RAM) strategy had been in place and had been properly executed, Netscape, Sun Microsystems, and Oracle would not have felt the need to counter Microsoft's market power with lobbying and campaign contributions. The government would have not received complaints or, if it had, it might have taken measures short of literally making a federal case out of it. Yet in all fairness, it would have taken extraordinary foresight for Microsoft to view a good relationship with the government as an asset. Few companies in unregulated industries do. Also, most companies automatically adopt an aggressive posture toward competitors. That's part of why our approach to relationship management is a whole new game. It views all relationships as assets, even those with the government and competitors.

From the RAM Playbook

The notion that relationships with competitors can be assets strikes some managers as fanciful. But the speed of change in business means that most companies cannot "do it all" on their own. Even those that can do it all can't do it quickly enough or profitably enough if they go it alone. At Entente, our venture-capital/mentor-capital firm focused on the Internet consulting business, we found that when two companies actually analyze the regions, markets, and technologies where they compete, this usually amounts to 20 to 30 percent of their respective total operations. This is particularly true of small to medium-size companies. Considering the benefits that can accrue from cooperation, there's little sense in letting the 70 to 80 percent that holds potential be canceled out by the relatively small area of competition. Start talking with competitors. Try to see where you really compete and where you might be able to profit together.

The Times quoted a Washington attorney hired by Microsoft in 1998 as saying, "The company made a mistake years ago by not cultivating friends in government, academia, and the media. It's hard to do when you're in the middle of a problem. I've told them they have to make friends before you need them, rather than after." We've italicized that last statement because it could serve as the mantra for all who would practice RAM.

A company as mighty as Microsoft can be brought into a damaging action at law by its failure to develop relationships with its competitors and the government (despite its considerable skill at forging bonds with customers and employees). A well-established international snack and cereal company with a first-rate merchandising operation can lose millions of dollars in sales because it misjudged the value of relationships between salespeople and store managers. If that's the case at these leading companies, perhaps a "timeout" is definitely in order so that we can all take stock of our relationship assets. This process begins with an understanding of the Relationship Web.

The Relationship Web

Consider what happens when a business fails. A whole universe of people feels the impact. Employees lose their jobs, sometimes their homes, and even sometimes their health and marriages. Suppliers undergo lay-offs, extending the misery further. Lenders are not repaid, and shareholders lose their investments. Charities and community groups lose funding and perhaps volunteers. A business failure reduces the state's sales tax revenue and property, payroll and income tax collections. If a string of businesses fails or a large enough outfit goes under, the community will need to reduce public services, extending the effects to everyone in the vicinity.

Conversely, when a business flourishes and expands, a large number of people see their lives improve. Therefore, when we talk about relationships, we mean the relationships that the organization has with every entity or individual that it touches in any way. As noted, these relationships extend well beyond those with employees and customers. They include those within the organization, plus relationships with all those entities and individuals that form what we call the Relationship Web.

Every enterprise, large or small, profit or nonprofit, public or private, stands at the center of a web of relationships. (Similarly, each one of us stands at the center of our own personal Relationship Web.) Various strands connect the organization at the center to every entity and individual that it touches. It's best to think of those entities and individuals as stakeholders, as people with a stake in the success of the organization. For most publicly held (or to-be publicly held) companies, the key stakeholder groups could include these:

The Stakeholders:

  • Employees
  • Executives
  • Customers
  • Prospects
  • Suppliers and vendors
  • Accountants, attorneys, and other professional service providers
  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Distributors and other resellers
  • Strategic partners and alliances
  • Licensors and licensees
  • Complementors and competitors
  • The board of directors
  • Investors The investment community
  • Security analysts
  • The media
  • Industry associations
  • The community and the public
  • Government officials, legislative bodies, and regulatory agencies
  • Educational institutions
These stakeholder groups contain both entities and individuals, and when you think of your stakeholders, you need to consider both. In other words, your organization (an entity) and you (an individual) have relationships with entities (companies, nonprofit organizations, agencies, and so on) and with the people within those entities. A relationship between two organizations consists of the various relationships among the people in those organizations. RAM is a way of managing relationships at all of these levels: entity to entity, entity to individual, and individual to individual.

Note that former members of these stakeholder groups might have a place on the outfit's Relationship Web. Smart companies try to part on good terms with employees, customers, investors, and partners who move on. It only makes sense. Although some companies will not rehire former employees, many do, and even those that don't can use good word of mouth. Also, customers often return when they find the grass no greener elsewhere. Investors come and go and come back, and a former distributor or partner might return for the right deal.

There might be a place on the Relationship Web for noncompetitors in the same industry. For example, a building contractor in Ohio has a lot in common with one in New Jersey. Large companies might compete in a specific service or region and not in others. To the extent that companies resemble one another, they should consider themselves reciprocal members of one another's Relationship Webs. Also, companies in unrelated businesses in the same region usually share interests in environmental and other regulation, labor and real-estate markets, and communication and transportation infrastructures. Good relationships benefit all parties affected by such issues.

True complementors, such as Intel and most PC manufacturers, or tire manufacturers and car companies, are naturally on one other's webs. They belong there because they can help one another attain goals, enhance success factors. and mitigate risks. For example, if Intel designs onto a chip certain functions performed by software, that action could reverberate for better or worse throughout its Relationship Web. In such cases, it might be best for Intel to take a RAM approach and warn those companies so that they can prepare for the changes ahead.

The virtual community defined by the Internet cannot be ignored because it now includes all stakeholders. The sheer size, growth, breadth, and speed of the World Wide Web mean that even companies without the dot-com suffix must consider it a constituency as well as a medium.

An organization's size, industry, structure, and other characteristics can indicate inclusion of other stakeholders not discussed here. Again, the more complete the inventory of stakeholders is at this point, the more accurate the picture of the Relationship Web is.

A Relationship Web.

As we examine the principles of RAM, we will refer to the Relationship Web from time to time. Not only does it depict some of the stakeholders that a company will have, but it also illustrates that connections exist among them. This implies that a strategy of getting one stakeholder to recommend, work with, or otherwise be of value to another one can often be an effective relationship management tactic.

What People are Saying About This

Earl W. Powell
"One of the critical success factors in the private equity industry is the effective management of multiple and complex relationships. The RAM approach concisely provides the roadmap for ensuring proper focus for maintaining these relationships."
Founder, Chairman and CEO Trivest, Inc.
Sharon A. Brown
"The book Business is a Contact Sport is great! The RAM concept is one that our students should take from here with their diploma! Students often find that many business strategies can't be immediately "tested" by them as they start out - RAM can be tested immediately, and if imbedded as a mindset, can accelerate success in business, and in life".
Assistant Dean for Administration & Development University of Miami School of Business
Robert J. Baum
"Business is a Contact Sport" is packed with practical advice about the importance of personal relationships. These viewpoints are useful in the corporate boardroom, the classroom, and in one's own life. The author's recommendation that every business should have a chief relationship officer (CRO) and multiple company-wide "relationship owners" is solid practical advice that can be applied immediately."
Director of Academic Programs in Entrepreneurship Entrepreneurship Department Smith School of Business University of Maryland
Tim Hardaway
"Just like in sports, mutually fruitful relationships have to be built and maintained in order to have a successful team. Business Is a Contact Sport is a slam dunk for anyone who's ready to take their game to the next level whether it be in business or life"
NBA Star and Olympic Gold Medalist

Meet the Author

Tom Richardson and Augusto Vidaurreta are not new to creating and utilizing relationships. When they made their high-profile exit from Arthur Andersen in 1988, they formed the basis for their new principles as they founded and built Systems Consulting Group (SCG). SCG grew from an initial investment of $100 (used for incorporating) to an organization of more than 200 employees, twice named to Inc. magazine's list of the 500 fastest-growing companies in the United States. At SCG, they honed their ideals-- create win-wins for your stakeholders, fix broken relationships, and invest in new ones-- and created a client list that reads like the Fortune 500. Richardson holds an MBA from the University of Miami. Vidaurreta holds an MBA from the University of Florida.

Tom Gorman is a business book author based in Newton, Massachusetts. He has written or collaborated on more than 15 business books, and his articles have appeared in Business Marketing Magazine and The New York Sunday Times. He holds an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business.

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Business Is a Contact Sport 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Business is a contact sport'--a suitably violent metaphor for what is, despite the veneer of caring about the customer and so on, the exploitation of personal relationships in favor of profit. And they pretend to have a 'high ethics/values orientation'? The limits of hypocrisy are being challenged here.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a college student at the University of Maryland, I had the privalege to attend a presentation about 'RAM' by the authors of the book. The presentation was great, and the book is even better. The concepts presented in this book value relationships as tangible assests as opposed to abstract entities. By clearly defining the role of relationships in a company or organization, people are able to constantly cultivate these relationship and open the doors to numerous opportunities. This book is great and I recommend it to everyone; it does not matter if you are a young college student or the CEO of a company.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is really a must read for anyone interested in developing a ¿breakout strategy¿ for their business, especially if you want a strong ethics/values orientation. When it comes to most business books today, the suggestions that they make are often add-ons to existing ways of doing business, so implementing the suggested strategy or system will still rely on access to significant capital or technology to achieve a successful result. In reading ¿Business is a Contact Sport¿, I found a fundamentally different perspective that guided me to create a completely unique competitive approach based on developing relationships with other businesses that should be willing to promote expansion of my business because it will also help them expand their business. The more I let my imagination wander, the more different types of businesses I came up with that could have an interest in this approach because they could benefit in a unique way too. It was exciting. On a practical level, the authors provide very good methods for organizing the ¿relationship management¿ process in order to keep a company focused on getting good business results from using this approach. In addition to the ¿breakout¿ value for businesses, I would suggest that this book is worthwhile for anyone who is looking for a way to make their personal work more meaningful and challenging. The book is full of good advice on how to build good business relationships. Even if the company you work for is not into this approach, you can use it for your own benefit. There is a lot of uncertainty in the job market these days and good relationships will always be the most valuable way to find another job, so the advice is good on a personal level as well as corporate level.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a medical doctor, and my direct relationship web consist of hospital administrators, nurses, other doctors, pharmaceutical reps, insurance companies and employees. Business is a Contact Sport has given me what I believe to be the secret into tuning into each of these stakeholders, identifying how I can help them win, and determining how they can help me meet my goals. Additionally, it is my belief that by implementing the principles in the book will lead to a much less stressful work environment. Any medical practitioner would benefit greatly from reading the book. D.Baralt,M.D.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The authors relate, through their experiences, the value of relationships to individuals and their companies. While much of what is Richardson and Vidaurreta document is straight-forward, 'common-sense,' and intuitive, they provide important structure to our most important assets - our relationships. What many MBA programs neglect to reinforce in their curriculum, the authors underscore as the lifeblood of the enterprise. I recommend this book as an important framework for maintaining what can take a career to build, and one bad decision to lose.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is not theory. The authors, both successful businessmen, illustrate how great results can be achieved through genuine care for all stakeholders, be they customers, employees, suppliers, community causes and even competitors. Many of the examples come from the authors¿ own practice applied in diverse businesses ranging from computer services to the banking, manufacturing and the hospitality industry. Not only is this book well written and useful. Its timing is perfect at a time when Corporate America begins to realize that doing business in an ethical and caring way is not only right, but that it pays off handsomely. Stefan Inzelstein President ISM Consulting, Inc.