From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Emperor's Teacher (1)—Talking Points-a

For the introduction to The Emperor's Teacher, click here (coming soon).
I am devoting 2012 to one of the projects closest to my heart/mind (心). It is called The Emperor's Teacher, and deals with lessons that need to be understood by managers all over the world. "Managers?," I hear you ask? But I am a parent, a teacher, an employee, and, at home, a busy cook, bookkeeper, and sometime voter. I'm not a manager.                            Yes, you are. 
[b] Versatile RF
We are all managers, and we would do well to learn abiding lessons of how to make managing work. Some people in our midst (and in human history) have spent inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out how we might manage ourselves (since if you can't get your self right, you'll have a hard time with anything bigger...right?), our families (since a family is a whole bunch of interrelated selves in social communion), and the whole enchilada...all under heaven (天下). The latter term was used traditionally in China to refer to running the empire, but it had both moral and governmental innuendo that we would do well to consider in our own lives today. All three ideas (oneself, one's family, and all under heaven) are versatile enough to be read in secular or sacred terms, and, indeed, early Chinese cosmology had a plethora of ways of interpreting such matters. Interpret away. The concepts are big enough for all of us, as even Dong Zhongshu might have agreed.

My book, The Emperor's Teacher, introduces the greatest management book of all time (Sima Guang's Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Ruling), and then explains its key teachings to readers in the twenty-first century. This is challenging stuff for readers today (in East Asia and the West, I might add), just as it was ten centuries ago. No book is deeper or richer with lessons you need to learn to manage your career, your family, your football team... 
...or the corporation you lead. We all need it. My book takes you through the lessons found in a thousand year-old text. The "Talking Points" that follow in the next few posts will give a sense of the book as a whole. Close readers of Round and Square will know that I have already posted all of chapters one and two, and the first parts of chapters three on this blog (look for them below). I will post the entire "blog draft" on Round and Square in 2012.

Front Matter:
Talking Points-a          Talking Points-b          Talking Points-c          Talking Points-d          Talking Points-e  
Table of Contents-a                                        Table of Contents-b                                        Table of Contents-c

The Emperor’s Teacher
Life Lessons from Chinese History
“Talking Points"—A (The Query Letter
What's a "query letter?"   

Compressed Version
Maybe you've heard of China. Maybe you’ve read the Art of War, but is that all you know about an economy hurtling headlong into the still-new century?  The Art of War? O.k...check. What comes next? You'd better know, because no one has ever managed anything in China having only read the Art of War. What comes next is the greatest management book of all time—Sima Guang’s Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Ruling (1085). Every Chinese leader in the last nine hundred years has read it. Even Mao Zedong studied it on the back of a donkey during the Long March. Want more? He even disliked the "politics" of the author (nine centuries before his time), yet he read it anyway. Yup, it's that important. Its lessons will change the way we do business and think about time, work, urgency, and everything else. Ready? It is time to get started. There is not another millennium to lose. —Rob LaFleur     

Chinese business is eating America's lunch, and it is because they have read [the Comprehensive Mirror] and we haven’t.  This book exposes the principles that put us on the menu.     —Warren Palmer   

Abridged Query (without author’s “biography”)   
I am writing a book on the lessons of Chinese history for leaders in the twenty-first century. My goal has been to write an engaging, reflective work about how we learn from life and study—a book that will be relevant to business readers, academic administrators, teachers at all levels, and anyone who has ever sought to manage her personal affairs or her family. The “angle” that I have is one of the greatest management texts of all time, and I have devoted my research to it for the past two decades. It is an eleventh-century Chinese history that can best be translated as the Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Ruling. Written by a scholar named Sima Guang (1019-1086), and intended to impart the greatest lessons of the past to serious readers, all of the major Chinese leaders in the last thousand years have studied it. Indeed, even Mao Zedong read from it as he rode on a donkey during the Communist Party’s “Long March.”  
[c] Next RF
My book addresses an audience acquainted with management lessons of the past—from Aristotle to Abraham Lincoln. It also speaks to a business audience that is increasingly aware of China, and that has been introduced to collections of Chinese maxims such as the Classic of the Way and the Art of War. Until now, there has not been a management book that can say, in effect, “You have read the Art of War, and want to build upon its foundations; here is an approach that takes you to an entirely new level.” In the Comprehensive Mirror, we have the key lessons explained in the kind of detail that the most capable Chinese leaders expected for a millennium. It is the next step in leadership. A quotation from my website sums it up:  
        The Comprehensive Mirror is the missing piece in management education, 
        during which students read translations of the Art of War and then cease to 
        read further in the Chinese tradition. I like to say that Sunzi (Sun-tzu) is “lunch” 
        and the Comprehensive Mirror is “what comes next—it’s what’s for supper.”  It 
        is essential reading for everyone at any level of management—from parent and 
        foreman to ruler of the world (for whom it was written in the first place). The 
        problem is that it is 10,000 pages long and is in Chinese—”medieval” Chinese, 
        at that. That is where I come in. I am here to help.
I have spent the past twenty years studying Sima Guang and the Comprehensive Mirror, and have the foundation to articulate a series of leadership lessons from its complex narrative. My publications and teaching have dealt with many of the concepts found in the Comprehensive Mirror, and I am one of a relatively small number of scholars capable not only of articulating the broad historical context of the Comprehensive Mirror, but also of giving precise and vibrant translations to the highly concentrated classical Chinese prose in the text.

Front Matter:
Talking Points-a          Talking Points-b          Talking Points-c          Talking Points-d          Talking Points-e  
Table of Contents-a                                        Table of Contents-b                                        Table of Contents-c

[d] Great RF
More "Talking Points" that summarize the big management project called...The Emperor's Teacher. Tomorrow's post finds "author" and "manager" in the grocery store...talkin' management.

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