“The funny thing about truth is you cannot change it. When something is true, it is true.”
- Dan Andrew, p. 20
First Trust: Your Guide from Rags to Riches for an Abundant Life and Career by Daniel L. Andrew is a very unique book. It is the only book I have ever reviewed that I couldn’t comment on without explaining myself. Maybe that is part of the point. This is the kind of book you can’t read without giving part of yourself in return.
I am a person of faith. I maintain a solid division between my personal and professional identities, so I’m sure I have never mentioned that before. This book is Dan Andrew’s message to the world, combining equal parts faith-based ‘good news’ and solid business advice. “All I need is for this message to be heard,” he writes on p. 90. If you are not a person of faith, there is no reason you can’t read this book. We can’t innovate without opening ourselves to new ideas and approaches, and I highly recommend giving this set of ideas a try.
Key to the lessons contained in First Trust is the importance of relationships. This is not a new idea to procurement, but we haven’t always done a great job building better relationships with suppliers, so more input is better. As Dan points out, relationships change the context of everything that happens in business, both good and bad. “Relationships beat process every time.” Truer words have never been written.
Chapters 2-3 are very straightforward (i.e. no religion). They contain a number of case studies that anyone will find constructive. Although many of them are told from a sales rather than a procurement perspective, creative business solutions are (or should be) function agnostic.
There is one story that resonated with me in particular (p. 44-45). Dan was in a tense, high stakes meeting where there was one empty chair in the room. He (silently) invited God to enter the room and occupy that chair. His interpretation of the details that follow is not only inspiring, it makes me wish I had thought to use the technique myself. We’ve all been in difficult circumstances. Who would you want in YOUR empty chair? How would that change your perspective on the situation and the eventual outcome?
I also gained a new perspective on the idea of transformation by reading this book. We talk about transformation A LOT. Usually our focus is on how to transform, and to what end. My experience is that most transformations have limited success. Maybe that is because a better focus would be on WHAT to transform. We need to transform ourselves: as leaders, as professionals, as people. Achieve that for yourself, and anything is possible. Achieve it at scale, and you’ll be unstoppable.
First Trust is a quick read but a long think. Dan makes perfectly clear that you don’t have to chose between your personal values and commercial success, although as your values become clearer to you, your definition of commercial success may change.
If you consider yourself a businessperson of faith, read this book. It will inspire and refocus you in a way you may not realize you have needed until it happens. If you don’t consider yourself a person of faith or aren’t sure, give it a try. What is the worst thing that could happen? You will either retain your point of view or experience a new perspective. Neither one comes with harm.
I love this book. Buy a copy and take the journey. Be prepared to give of yourself and the ROI will be immeasurable.