Contented Cows Redux

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Contented Cows Redux

There is a new cow, ‘er book in the barn, and we want to tell you about it. But first, a little background.

Fourteen years ago we published our first book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk. Our purpose in writing it was to create the first definitive but useful treatise on the real, tangible bottom-line benefits of treating employees right. Among other things, the book contained an exhaustive business case analysis of companies that have excelled in this fashion relative to their peers, coupled with how-to prescriptive advice for leaders who want to replicate those results.

Compared to the average business book, it has done well commercially, especially for a work that was self-published by two guys with modest bank accounts and no big name publisher behind them. That owes in large part to a loyal following of thousands of “Fresh Milk” readers (subscribe now, if you haven’t already), organizations that have hired us to bring the message to them in person, and others who believe in our work. We remain grateful to you every day.

About nine months ago we were approached by John Wiley & Sons with the idea of doing another book, specifically a re-write of the original. Though flattered by the offer and the prospect of working with the best business book publisher on earth, initially I wasn’t wowed by the idea. My thinking was that the principles of leadership are timeless (they really are), and we’ve made our point – let’s move on. It was only after a couple of in-depth conversations with my co-author and business partner, Richard Hadden and the folks at Wiley that they were able to pierce my sometimes thick skull with the realization that, whereas leadership principles may be timeless, the context within which organizations and leaders are trying to survive and apply those principles is different – radically different today. Indeed, it would be nearly impossible to connect the dots between the world of 1998 and the one we live and work in today.

The external environment notwithstanding, work itself has changed in material ways. The rules and the deal are different, the field of play is bigger, the pace exponentially quicker, the goalposts narrower, shareholders less forgiving, and the talent more elusive, mobile, cynical, and mercenary. An entire project or career can be launched or terminated with 138 characters and an RT.

One aspect of workspace physics remains rock solid, however; the precept that focused, fully engaged workers produce more and better stuff, yielding better outcomes. Motivated people move faster; they always have, and always will. So, how does an organization, how does an individual leader apply those precepts in a vastly different context? Our newest work, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, addresses this specific issue. I’m very glad that we went ahead with the project. We’re proud of it, we’re delighted to be partnered with Wiley, and we think this is our best work yet. But we want you to be the judge.

With a brand new and even more compelling business case, fresh, contemporary examples and exemplars, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk addresses head on:

  • the trust gap that business leaders (all of us) must overcome,
  • the process of communicating (really making meaning) with a workforce that is as distracted as it is diverse,
  • how to recognize and reward great work without having access to a pile of cash,
  • the realities for employers of the ongoing health care saga in the U.S.,
  • how to let your people know that you really care,
  • reskilling our management workforce after a four year training hiatus.

You’ll hear about heretofore unheralded exemplars like:

  •  LaRosa’s Pizza, where work process issues are reworked in order to make staff and guests alike a lot more satisfied
  • Plamex, the Mexican division of headset maker Plantronics, where thanks to workplace weddings (yes!), employees are a lot more than “engaged”
  • Alaska Clean Seas, where they’ve taken workplace safety to a whole new level
  • Toronto’s Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, where they feel that fans shouldn’t be the only ones having fun
  • Rackspace, where recruiting is really a contact sport

Like its predecessors, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk is an easy, high protein, unpretentious, slightly irreverent read. It is available NOW in both paper and digital formats at your favorite booksellers. Click HERE for a link to a free sample chapter, and HERE to buy the book from your preferred bookseller.

Please, buy the book in your favorite format, read it (a great vacation read), and tell others about it. We’d be delighted if you would take time to post a review at, or both. And, as always, if you’d like for one of us to deliver the message in person at your management or association meeting, our dance cards still have open dates. Just get in touch.

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