My Favorite Business Book Isn’t What You’d Think

By Colleen Walton, Marketing Strategist, Brand Acceleration, Inc.

The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.
– W. Somerset Maugham, Playwright and Author

I’m addicted to buying books. At last count, I owned over two hundred. They’re on shelves in my living room, lined along the top of my dresser, and stacked on my nightstands. When someone sees all my books, they inevitably ask, “Which is your favorite?” It’s a heady question with no clear answer (find me at a conference and I’ll give you my top five), but I definitely have a favorite business book. So, is it Good to Great? 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? The Power of Habit? Nope. It’s The Little Red Hen.


The Little Red Hen tells the story of a hen (obviously) who wants to make bread. She asks her fellow farmyard animals to help her plant some wheat. They refuse, so she does it herself. After the wheat grows, she asks them to help her harvest it and grind it into flour. They refuse, so she does it herself. When the time comes to make the dough and bake the bread, she asks them to help her knead. Again they refuse, so she does it herself. As she takes the bread from the oven and the smell wafts through the farmyard, the other animals gather in hopes of getting a piece. The hen, sick of their crap, refuses to share. “I planted the seeds, cut the wheat, took it to the mill to be made into flour, and made the bread all by myself. I shall now eat the loaf all by myself.” And so she does. The moral is he who shares in the work shares in the reward.

Much of my work is reviewed by committees. My clients are often beholden to an economic development committee whose members want to be included in all the decisions. During the early stages of a project, this sort of input is welcomed. They get to tweak strategic briefs, edit copy, and provide design input. The project progresses smoothly until the very end when one person suddenly has a lot of… thoughts. You know the type. This person went along with every decision made throughout the whole process and didn’t voice a dissenting opinion until it was too late. The wheat was harvested and ground into flour. The dough was made. The bread is in the oven and now is not the time to talk about changing the ingredients. When we apply The Little Red Hen to the real business world, the moral becomes he who has no opinion now does not get to have an opinion later.

To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent. – Robert Copeland, Author

Click here to buy the book.
It’s a great gift for your children, your boss, or even your board members.